Fatty Drives the Bus  - Dann
Director: Mick Napier
Starring: Scot Robinson Joe Bill
This review has been a long time coming. It probably would have been in the last batch of reviews in 2001, but probably came just too late when that whole 'life' thing took over. But now we start anew and I have this not only on VHS (in EP mode no less) but in DVD format so I will have it forever and can play it at my funeral.
To say this is an odd film, is to greatly undercut the bizarre nature of the movie. Every rule of film making and common sense has been broken in order to present to you a story of epic proportions. The base story is that Satan is low on his soul count for a month and needs to ensure that a bus full of people meet their end. They were otherwise going to be spared since Jesus was in town and no one was to die that day...naturally.
So Satan announces that he must transform! A line that has lived on as my cellphone start-up text for my past three phones. Of course the fact that I've only had three phones for the better part of this decade strikes my college students as the real bizarre notion. Back to the story, Satan enters a morphing machine and turns into a tour guide. The plan is to give the bus of people a mid-guided tour before ending int all. Why all the trouble. Well if you have to ask, then you won't be able to handle how little sense everything else will make.
Let's meet the cast. Made up of actors from a stage group, we end up with a series of colorful an unique characters. First we meet the two farm boys. Taking a break from manually drilling fence holes, the older brother wants to see the big city while the younger enjoys the safety of home. As he lists of the possible troubles that may await, he somehow lists off every event that will happen in the movie. But we don't know that yet, so moving on.
Then we meet the fabulous Bridgette and a mother/daughter duo. The mother wishes she was dead and hates the world, while the daughter is hopeful about the world. Bridgette is of course just fabulous, so we'll leave it at that. Then we meet a suburban family. Fitting the soccer mom/yuppie stereotype, life is a blast for them, but they need to get out of the house. After the ritual spanking of their children, they are packed and ready to go.
No we meet the regretful scientist, forever regretting some regrettable event that involved dogs and numbers. It's as simple as that. Finally we have an eccentric rich couple who just act crazy. Of them all, they are the least interesting because that try to be bizarre, while the rest just are by default.
They meet on the bus and Satan forecasts a trip on LSD...Lake Shore Drive, haha. Things continue like this and each stop brings more odd events and camera motions like sped up and reversed footage as well as silly dances. But each detour only prolongs their fate.
Between seeing our crew in action, the narrator makes appearances to keep the story flowing and is in the good company of his piano man. The movie also documents Jesus's travels throughout the city as he makes his way to the bus in order to save it. He uses many forms of travel, and we get to see all of them. We also get some backstory on some of the characters, mainly the scientist. He goes on and on about his horrible mistake and the regrets that he has. Dogs and numbers, on and on.
Every once in a while a women shows up to confuse the cast since she has no place or introduction in the movie. Then as fast as she shows up, she's gone. Never to be seen again for ten minutes. As this is happening, the younger farm brother and the angry mother's daughter start to fall in love. This is a beautiful piece and made me cry.
But what happens in the end? Are they saved or are they doomed to a fiery death? Can Satan be cured of his rascally ways? What role does Fatty play in all this? How can we all get along? Only a few of these will be answered, but we're left with some life lessons that will form building blocks to answer our own life dilemmas.
The movie is weird, very weird. Time shifts around, people behave in nonsensical ways, Chicago trivia is distorted in a grand fashion. It's apparent that most of the movie was adlibbed. This is especially noticeable in the voiceovers, as if they were watching the footage that was completely random in the first place, then gave it a narration in one take and called it a day. But the movie wasn't meant to be serious, so just enjoy the ride and try not to think too much.
I tried to get some of my friends to watch this, but I soon found out they would hate me forever if we continued past the first scene. Well second scene, the first is a five minute clock montage which leads up to the time of the day that the narrator announces and is promptly irrelevant. But you come to expect such things in the end.
So remember most people fly to Heaven when they die, but Fatty...he drives the bus.